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> Building A Usa Strat On A Budget, Can a great quality American Strat be had for around $400?
Mudbone
post Sep 26 2010, 07:54 PM
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I have recently purchased a 1993 USA Peavey Predator with the intention of upgrading all the hardware. For those of you who aren't familiar with the USA Peavey Predator, its essentially a Strat copy with a kinda funny looking headstock. The neck and body were made in the US, and the hardware were made in the Far East I believe.

Brand new its was sold for less than $300, and on first inspection it is quite obvious where Peavey cut corners to bring down the price - the hardware is shit. Terrible tuners, cheap tremolo made from pot metal, and mediocre pickups.

There is one advantage this guitar has over its Fender counterpart, and that is the neck. It is a very fast and comfortable, and made from two pieces, thereby making it resistant to warping. The fretboard does have a gloss finish, which I don't particularly care for, and I wish it had a darker tint to it. It has medium frets, not exactly my first choice, I would much rather have jumbo frets.

The other area where this guitar strays from the typical Strat is the body wood. It is a Poplar body, and from what I've read on the forums it has an alder cap. Now before you knock it for being made of poplar, Fender themselves have claimed that poplar is just as good of a tonewood as alder. In fact, some of the first Strats were made with poplar. During the 90's Fender could not get their hands on any alder and used poplar as a substitute on their USA series guitars.

Anyways, all this talk of tonewood is trivial, for the thing that matters most is how it sounds - thats it. I have played it, and it does have a nice resonance to it. The guitar sounds good unplugged, which is a good sign. It does sound a little thin, but this can be attributed to the cheap pot metal tremolo block. An upgrade to a steel block could cure this.

So, here are the upgrades I have planned for this guitar, which is ALL of the hardware. The only thing that shall remain stock is the neck and body. I want to keep this as cheap as possible, but don't want to sacrifice too much on quality.

- Peavey USA Predator - $150
- Wilkinson WV6SB tremolo - all steel parts with a steel block - $32
- Tonerider Pure Vintage Pickups with white covers - $100
- RS Guitarworks Complete Vintage Upgrade Kit with Jensen oil and paper capacitor - $63
- Black Triple-ply pickguard - $10
- Dunlop Strap Locks - $14

Now what I haven't decided on yet is what kind of tuners I would like to get. I know for sure I would like to get locking tuners, just how much I want to spend is another matter. Guitar Fetish has some for around $35 and the Sperzels on eBay are around $50-60.

The final upgrades I would like to do are a Graphtech nut and string trees. I think I'll have the nut installed by a luthier, not sure yet.

As far as the aesthetics, I'm gonna hit the body with some steel wool to get rid of the gloss and give it a satin finish, I think it will contrast nicely with the glossy pickguard. In the end its gonna look somewhat like David Gilmour's black Strat. Thats not the way I planned on it happening, I didn't even want a black guitar. I actually wanted a white guitar and planned on blacking out all the hardware. However, when you buy used you can't always get exactly what you want.

Now I'm sure some of you are saying I could get a used USA Fender for around $400, and that argument does have merit. However, for me this more than just having a great guitar, it is also a learning project. By the time I'm done I will know more about different aspects of the guitar than I previously did, plus I hope you guys can benefit from my project as well.

I would like to thank Stratman79 for his suggestion of the Tonerider pickups. From the demos I've heard on Youtube they sound great and the price shall save me a few bucks.

If any of you guys have attempted a similar project and have some good advice to give, it will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for taking the time read this long post!


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Todd Simpson
post Sep 26 2010, 09:09 PM
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Sounds like great project! You should learn a ton by the time you have it ready to roll. Enjoy the process and the result smile.gif

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Mudbone
post Sep 26 2010, 10:04 PM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Sep 26 2010, 04:09 PM) *
Sounds like great project! You should learn a ton by the time you have it ready to roll. Enjoy the process and the result smile.gif

Practice!
Todd

A ton of practice is definitely the key to appreciating any good instrument smile.gif


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He who laughs last thinks slowest.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens


Gear:

Guitars: Uncle Rufus' Twanger Classic
Amps: Mississippi Boom Box
Mojo: Hammer of Odin and a pair of Ox gonads
Inspiration: Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Zero to Hero: 1,387/10,000

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stratman79
post Sep 26 2010, 11:21 PM
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You will def learn a lot... I think you will have a lot fun in the process.

Maybe think about changing the nut as well?

What about Kluson tuners, they do really nice pegs. I got a set of vintage pegs on my Tokai strat (also got the Tulip ones on Les Paul)

I've always liked the mint green scratchplates...

Keep us updated with pics etc
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Mudbone
post Sep 27 2010, 12:07 AM
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QUOTE (stratman79 @ Sep 26 2010, 06:21 PM) *
You will def learn a lot... I think you will have a lot fun in the process.

Maybe think about changing the nut as well?

What about Kluson tuners, they do really nice pegs. I got a set of vintage pegs on my Tokai strat (also got the Tulip ones on Les Paul)

I've always liked the mint green scratchplates...

Keep us updated with pics etc


I am definitely gonna change out the nut for a Graph Tech TusqXL lubricated nut, I just need to figure out the fretboard radius and the distance between the strings, as the neck on this isn't a typical Strat neck. Thats why I was thinking of having a luthier do it.

As far as the tuners, I'm not a big fan vintage style tuners, plus I would like some mass to them, and I think the locking tuners provide that.


--------------------


He who laughs last thinks slowest.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens


Gear:

Guitars: Uncle Rufus' Twanger Classic
Amps: Mississippi Boom Box
Mojo: Hammer of Odin and a pair of Ox gonads
Inspiration: Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Zero to Hero: 1,387/10,000

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maharzan
post Sep 28 2010, 01:11 AM
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Cool Project. smile.gif I remember wiring pups on my JEM. Then I even didn't know which position the pickup switch needs to be to select neck/bridge pickup.. I connected all in reverse. biggrin.gif


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Mudbone
post Sep 28 2010, 01:26 AM
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QUOTE (maharzan @ Sep 27 2010, 08:11 PM) *
Cool Project. smile.gif I remember wiring pups on my JEM. Then I even didn't know which position the pickup switch needs to be to select neck/bridge pickup.. I connected all in reverse. biggrin.gif


What kind of pickups did you install in your JEM? Some people actually like having the selector in reverse smile.gif So what kind of solder did you use? I heard that a particular solder has to be used on guitar electronics, 60/40 solder to be precise.


--------------------


He who laughs last thinks slowest.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens


Gear:

Guitars: Uncle Rufus' Twanger Classic
Amps: Mississippi Boom Box
Mojo: Hammer of Odin and a pair of Ox gonads
Inspiration: Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Zero to Hero: 1,387/10,000

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maharzan
post Sep 28 2010, 03:16 AM
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JEM was the first guitar I ever bought. I hardly knew anything about electric guitars like what they call the bridge.. tremolo, whammy.. I just knew whammy pedal used by Satch.. biggrin.gif I didn't even know they call it neck/bridge/mid pickups. I was like, if it had 5 pickups (3 sets), the guitar is the best. biggrin.gif lol.. anyway, I found out that ibanez stock pickups sucks and then immediately after I bought my guitar, I bought Dimarzio Tone Zone, PAF Joe and an original fender mid pickup (forgot the name). I m a big satriani fan and got these after quite a lot of research. smile.gif But then after like 5 years, just last month I found I had to actually buy a F spaced pickups.. I just got regular ones and I always wondered why my first string sounded weak. Instructors too noticed that. LoL!

Anyway, I used a good old soldering tool I had in home. I don't know the specs but its a cheap one. I just made sure that I didn't touch the wires for too long as it heats up really fast. I think I wired like 2-3 times. I connected up position to bridge, and down position to neck. I loved the neck sound and thought it was easier to have it down so its not disturbing. I thought this was how it was set up. But then again I thought, probably bridge is at the back and it makes sense that when you pull back, its bridge and reverse. I then saw a manual about the pickups and then rewired again properly. I didn't have an amp to test so I didn't know if it worked or not.. Lol!!

Haha.. sorry for the long story. Its amazing to recall how novice you are. I was afraid to buy a guitar when I didn't know what to ask for or what specs I needed. I wonder what the shopkeeper felt then... stupid guy doesn't know anything and want to buy a Steve Vai JEM.. wink.gif


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Fran
post Sep 28 2010, 04:08 PM
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Seems like a great project.

If you take some pictures of the pieces and proccess it would make for an awesome wiki entry too!


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Mudbone
post Sep 28 2010, 05:12 PM
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QUOTE (Fran @ Sep 28 2010, 11:08 AM) *
Seems like a great project.

If you take some pictures of the pieces and proccess it would make for an awesome wiki entry too!


I actually planned on documenting the whole project smile.gif Its most likely gonna be done in two or three stages, hopefully I'll get two stages completed by the end of next month.


--------------------


He who laughs last thinks slowest.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens


Gear:

Guitars: Uncle Rufus' Twanger Classic
Amps: Mississippi Boom Box
Mojo: Hammer of Odin and a pair of Ox gonads
Inspiration: Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Zero to Hero: 1,387/10,000

Go to the top of the page
 
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Fran
post Sep 28 2010, 05:23 PM
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QUOTE (Mudbone @ Sep 28 2010, 06:12 PM) *
I actually planned on documenting the whole project smile.gif Its most likely gonna be done in two or three stages, hopefully I'll get two stages completed by the end of next month.


Awesome!

I can put it all in the knowledge base if you are interested, just let me know wink.gif


--------------------
Guitars:
Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster, Ibanez RG2570MZ, Epiphone SG G-400
Amp:
Vox AC4TVH head + V112TV cab
Effects:
Vox Satchurator, Vox Time Machine, Dunlop CryBaby, Boss MT-2, Boss CE-5, Boss TU-2, Boss ME-70
Recording:
Line-6 POD X3 + FBV-Express, Pandora PX5D

GMC wants YOU to take part in our Guitar-Wikipedia!
Have a good time reading great articles and writing your own with us in our GUITAR WIKI!
Share your playing and get Pro-advice from our Instructors: Join REC
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Captain Insaino
post Sep 28 2010, 05:39 PM
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Looks cool... the way I was going to do it was a bit more expensive but I think you will get the same result...
In my shopping list I have:
MIM tabaco burst fender body in adler for $170
maple neck with rose wood board nut installed jumbo frets $200
Then you add tuners, cover plate, electronics, for about another $300, so I would be into it for about $700,

You could get the same result by just getting a MIM fender from ebay, for about $400 and just changing out the pick ups, replacing the nut, tuners, and saddle for quality items for $200 to $300..... about the same thing just less work....

I have no idea about poplar for a tone wood, but it you play her and she sings to you that is all that matters..

The only thing I saw that you did not list was shielding foil for the cavity, you may want to think about putting some in there ...

Take lots of pictures and show us how your project gets along.....


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Mudbone
post Sep 28 2010, 06:07 PM
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QUOTE (Captain Insaino @ Sep 28 2010, 12:39 PM) *
Looks cool... the way I was going to do it was a bit more expensive but I think you will get the same result...
In my shopping list I have:
MIM tabaco burst fender body in adler for $170
maple neck with rose wood board nut installed jumbo frets $200
Then you add tuners, cover plate, electronics, for about another $300, so I would be into it for about $700,

You could get the same result by just getting a MIM fender from ebay, for about $400 and just changing out the pick ups, replacing the nut, tuners, and saddle for quality items for $200 to $300..... about the same thing just less work....

I have no idea about poplar for a tone wood, but it you play her and she sings to you that is all that matters..

The only thing I saw that you did not list was shielding foil for the cavity, you may want to think about putting some in there ...

Take lots of pictures and show us how your project gets along.....


Originally I wanted a MIM Strat, but the initial investment was a bit too steep for me. Plus I like the I idea of having an American made guitar, national pride i guess smile.gif But if both were the same price I would probably go with the MIM Strat, simply cause there are more aftermarket options.

As far as shielding goes, I have just received an aluminum pickguard shield along with the pickguard from GuitarFetish.com. GuitarFetish also sells copper tape with a conductive adhesive, so theres no need to solder the different strips of tape together. However, I have read that if more than roughly 10 square centimeters of shielding is used, treble begins to roll off, assuming the shielding is grounded. I have also heard that the shielding doesn't have to be grounded to create a Faraday Cage. At the moment I don't know which to believe. Once I have all the components installed - i.e. pickups, pots and switch - I'll play it without any shielding, just to set a benchmark. Then I'll install the shielding without grounding it, and see if I notice any difference. Finally if that hasn't worked I'll ground it. If you have any experience with grounding that you can share it will be greatly appreciated.

I just found this article on shielding, but haven't really read through the whole thing yet

http://www.guitarnuts.com/wiring/shielding/shield3.php




QUOTE (Fran @ Sep 28 2010, 12:23 PM) *
Awesome!

I can put it all in the knowledge base if you are interested, just let me know wink.gif


Cool dude, I'll let you know when I complete the first stage, which hopefully shall be completed next week smile.gif


--------------------


He who laughs last thinks slowest.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens


Gear:

Guitars: Uncle Rufus' Twanger Classic
Amps: Mississippi Boom Box
Mojo: Hammer of Odin and a pair of Ox gonads
Inspiration: Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Zero to Hero: 1,387/10,000

Go to the top of the page
 
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